Though he comes from Russian parents Yossif
Ivanov was born in Antwerp and his recital represents a quartet
of Belgian sonatas. Each composer’s work occupies a different
century, and therefore allows Ivanov and Daniel Blumenthal to
present the canonic Belgian sonata, the Franck, and end with
D’Haene’s 2003 sonata and for the violinist alone to take on
two of Ysaÿe’s six solo 1923 sonatas.
The solo sonata dedicated to Mathieu Crickboom,
Ysaÿe’s second violin in his eponymous string quartet, receives
a most intimate reading. The violinist threads an almost attenuated
tissue of tone and this tone blanche that Ivanov demonstrates
is in rude opposition to a patrician reading, such as that given
by Oscar Shumsky on a Nimbus three disc set [NI 1735]. The tremolando
style of delicacy and introversion favoured by Ivanov means
that he tends to rely more of individual gesture than cumulative
and structural cohesion. His pizzicati are rather withdrawn
and fail to ring out with Shumsky’s panache. In the second movement
Danse rustique though, I rather liked the nineteen year
old Ivanov’s overt dancing and rhythmic propulsion. He doesn’t
stress accents with the slashing vivacity of Shumsky nor does
he thereby stress the work’s proto-Bartókian modernity. Similarly
the superb internalised dialogue that Shumsky establishes is
not yet part of the younger man’s arsenal.
The Sixth sonata, dedicated to the wondrous
Spanish violinist Manuel Quiroga, is a compact seven-minute
work. Ivanov is very forwardly recorded here and in the companion
solo sonata but it’s more in the sixth that we pick up the sniffs,
bow abrasions and adjacent string knocks that in a more distant
recording we might otherwise not have noticed. They’re minimal
except for the sniffing which is noticeable on attacks. Shumsky’s
take is grand seigniorial but intensely vocalised, with fanfare
like flourishes that add tensile bite to the playing. His recording
is boomy in typical Nimbus house style but the pleasures of
playing like this outweighs any – and all – secondary considerations
of this kind. Ivanov by comparison doesn’t sculpt these phrases
into quite so viable a construction; things remain exceptionally
well played but rather earthbound.
D’Haene’s sonata is broadly traditional in
outlook. It has a melancholic sound world that appeals strongly
and its shadowing lines attest to a certain obsessive quality.
Elements of Bartók’s folk inflexion are here as well and they
give a brief taste of the earthy. D’Haene studied with Dutilleux
in 1968 and since 1970 has taught composition at the Royal Conservatory
of Music in Brussels. One admires his avoidance of spurious
rhetoric and his setting up of rather intriguing oppositions
in his writing.
It’s perfectly understandable that Ivanov
should want to include the Franck as a calling card, though
perhaps more adventurous programming might have proved even
more worthwhile from the collector’s point of view, given that
a set of all six Ysaÿe sonatas now looks improbable from this
source. Blumenthal is a good ally and needs to be in this work
where the pianist has it much harder than the fiddle player.
The general outlines are fine, though the recording fractionally
favours the pianist – or maybe Ivanov’s tone doesn’t quite project
enough. Blumenthal is apt to indulge some of the more outré
pianistic demands and I definitely don’t like Ivanov’s smeary
tone in the Allegretto.
Nevertheless this Zakhar Bron pupil has served
notice of his gifts in this recital. His technical address is
considerable but he needs to ally those gifts with a deepening
insight into phraseology and projection.